How Do Moms Raise An Olympian?

How Do Moms Raise An Olympian?

As I watch these amazing Rio Olympics one of my favorite parts is watching the parents in the audience.  Their angst, their joy, the frustration, the family celebration.  But aside from the incredible physical achievements we witness, the mom in me began to wonder…what does it REALLY take to raise an Olympian?

I found in my research that the average athlete gives 10,000 hours of “deliberate practice” to develop the expertise to go all the way to the Olympics.*3  Then I thought of the parents driving to and from practices, the meal preparation, attending the competitions, paying the coaches, leagues, and facilities and of course the unconditional love (hopefully) win OR lose.  Beyond the physical demands and huge financial commitment I was curious to see if there was similar parenting philosophy among these parents of Olympians.

I found an interview with Debbie Phelps to be particularly interesting as she discussed her involvement working WITH her child to help him make decisions for HIS life and HIS wishes. Michael Phelps moms said “it was a responsibility as a mother, as a family to be able to give him the support, the guidance, the understanding, the ability to make decisions, the ability to build a team around him, which we had – we have a very unique team Phelps. So my responsibility is for that support, that love. It’s OK. We can do it again. If you want to leave the sport, it’s all right. So it was that ear, that heart and that understanding.” *

I loved hearing how mom of Olympian Kaillie Humphries, 2 time gold medalist, helped her child to understand there was a team expecting her to follow through. She stated, “it was important that their kids honor the sports commitments they made at the start of every season. ‘We told them, ‘If Mom and Dad PAY, you play.’We instilled in them that once you’ve made a commitment, there are people who need and count on you,‘ she said. *1

Nellie Biles, mom to Gold Medalist gymnastics phenom Simone repeated again and again: “Stay in your bubble.” She reiterated that Simone needed only to do her best, and that would be enough.*2

In a study covering when parents can actually hurt their child’s chance to succeed, the experts explain: DON’T coach your kids when they have a coach already and remember that the accomplishments are YOUR KIDS achievements, not a parents second chance. *3

In all of my research, I think Michael Phelps mom Debbie sums up the true mission of parenting an Olympian:
We just want our children to do their very best. And we want them to be proud of what they’ve accomplished, not only for themselves but for their country.*

Cheers to continuing to enjoy a great 2016 Olympics, watching not only the athletes but recognizing the tremendous contributions of parents helping their kids to be the very best they can be!  Your kids deserve the best too, so visit our FREE website for moms to find the best swimming programs, sports leagues, mommy and me programs, and more to help kids reach their full potential at!

On A Mission To Make Motherhood Easier,
Michelle Founder